Monday, September 28, 2015
Persevering After Failure
Last week in my college success courses I teach I shared a true story on what can be learned from failure. The discussion that followed was encouraging as they saw in the story perseverance, learning from wise advice, and that dreams can still come true. Those were the main thoughts the students shared.
The story came from my sharing the book with them, From Failure to Promise “360 Degrees”. I started off with a question: “Is it possible for someone to flunk out of a college and then years later wind up teaching there as a professor?”. After the initial stares some shook their heads no and some indicated yes. That is the reality of the basic gist of the life story, Dr. C. Moorer tells about himself in this memoir about his life from failure to success.
He honestly shares about his high school dream of going to the university to be an auto engineer. He was a good student but various factors interfered in his first year to cause him to go onto suspension, (I won’t discuss the factors here to peak your curiosity to read the book yourself). None the less, he shares about how life happened to him which led to failure. That is what I spoke to my college students about, that life can hit you from left field and bring failure your way. What do you do about it?
There are many principles that can be learned from Dr. Moorer’s story. My favorite is when he accepts advice from his father after he came home dejected from the university on academic suspension. The description of what his dad says is found on page 47, “He asked to speak to me, and I knew it was going to be an interesting conversation , to say the least. “So, you’re finished like that huh?” The dichotomy of his query left me reeling for the right response. “Well, they said I can’t come back for a year or so,” I explained. He quickly followed by asking, “..and then what or now what?” I replied, “I guess I got to go to community college and try to get back in, but I don’t know about my job or engineering…” I said little, but for him, I had either said enough or too much. He calmly but assertively cut in, “Life is hard, ain’t nobody giving away anything. If you really want something worth having, you have to sacrifice for it. It may require bleeding, sweating, and even crying to get it. Just ask the Lord to help you out along the way. Take breaks but don’t break away from it. Everything is going to be alright if you don’t break down like a little sissy every time things don’t go your way.” This was great wisdom from his father who ran a small auto body shop in Detroit, Michigan.
From the rest of the story as the reader follows the progression of his life story up to his present time of being the Dean of the Madonna University School of Business, it shows how he took his father’s advice to heart. He could have played the victim and blamed his professors or maybe that the school did not help him enough. No, he took ownership of his problems. Also his father’s advice showed the values of personal responsibility. I like how he emphasized take a break to gain clear vision of what happened but don’t break away from the future God had for him. You noticed the father did not say. This is unfair! Let’s get a lawyer and start a protest. Instead he encouraged his son to regroup, don’t give up, and turn to God for persevering strength.
Did you notice he is now Dean of the Madonna University School of Business. What happened to his dream of engineering? Sorry no spoiler alert here, you will have to read the story yourself. But it is a learning experience that I discussed with my college students in my college success classes. We discussed how with our dreams and goals we need to be open for shifts to occur. Just as I have shared in the past, Dr. Krumboltz of Stanford University, speaks of how happenstance events can change are dreams and we need to be open to new directions in our lives. This is the same as what Dr. Jim Bright speaks of with the Chaos Theory of Careers that shifts can occur in our life direction. Be open to the shifts if they are opening up new passions and new positives for your life. Some of those shifts or happenstance events start out as failures that come across our paths. That is where we need to listen to Dr. Moorer’s father’s advice in not giving up but taking time to regroup and move forward instead of backwards. Or as I say in my book, Living More Than OK, we need to spiral up to abundant living not spiral down.
Reflection: What does perseverance mean to you? Think back to a failure in your life. What did you learn from the experience?